Richmond bar manager ‘praying’ expiration of pandemic unemployment benefits brings people to work

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – Multiple pandemic unemployment programs end Saturday, Sept. 4, including extended benefits for those whose regular state unemployment has run out in Virginia, according to the Virginia Employment Commission. The expiration in benefits is happening amid widespread staffing shortages.

The $300 boost to weekly payments and a program expanding eligibility to freelance workers and those who are self-employed also ended Saturday. Roughly 60,000 Virginians will be impacted by the expiration in benefits.

One bar and grill owner in The Fan is hoping the expiration of pandemic unemployment benefits will bring more staff in for interviews.

George Hatzimanolis, owner of 3 Monkeys Bar & Grill, said five people scheduled to come in for interviews with him at the end of July for the cook position didn’t show up to the interviews.

“We’re doing the best we can,” said Derrick White, the restaurant’s bar manager.

White said he and Hatzimanolis find themselves stepping in to be servers and bartenders to keep up with their customer volume.

“I’m bussing the tables for the servers when I have to, you know, running food when they are busy and I’m not, because the bar is not as busy as the floor,” he said.

As of now, 3 Monkeys Bar & Grill has about five bartenders and seven servers. They are hiring for several positions, including one bartender position and two more server positions.

With pandemic unemployment benefits running out in Virginia on Saturday, White said they’re ‘praying’ it’ll fix their staffing shortage.

“I really want people to come out and want to work more,” White said. “I definitely did not have a few staff members come back after quarantine because they’d rather receive unemployment instead of go back to work. But I don’t blame them, you know? Who wouldn’t like a few months off?”

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